The first day of I/O 2021 was a showcase of major changes that Google has in the pipeline, ranging from Android 12 and a revived Wear OS to security enhancements and futuristic Google Assistant upgrades. But there’s a lot more information that is slowly trickling down as developer-focused sessions proceed. Among them are a few changes coming to the payments system on Google Play, and how developers distribute and monetize their apps and services, especially when it comes to microtransactions.
Google says its app repository will soon allow developers to ‘offer users access to content for a fixed amount of time.’ Instead of asking users to pay for an item in one go and keep it forever, developers will be able to offer access to these products for a limited amount of time. This is somewhat similar to how subscription-based services like Netflix work. Google Play will give users the flexibility to extend their access to a product or service both before and after the usage period expires.
This will especially come in handy for utilitarian apps. For example, imagine a paid scientific calculator app. You either purchase it by paying the full price, or stick with the free version that has all the advanced capabilities locked. What if you need those advanced features for a limited time only, and don’t want to pay the full asking price that lets you keep it forever? This is where the ability to purchase short-term access to paid content in an app comes in handy.
Additionally, developers will also be able to offer multiple items into a single package and sell them as part of a bundle subscription. Google is calling it a multi-line subscription. This will come in handy for users who don’t want to get locked to a single service tier with a fixed set of benefits. Instead, developers can list all the perks individually, let users choose what they find useful, and pay for them à la carte.
Finally, Google Play will also support what the company calls multi-quantity purchases. As the name suggests, users will be able to buy multiple items at once in their cart, instead of going through the hassle of paying for each one separately. All the aforementioned payment features will arrive with Play Billing Library v4.0 for developers who are interested in taking advantage of the aforementioned changes.